|Development of Alternatives||In June 2016, the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority (EQA) filed a notification with the Basel Convention Secretariat about an incident of two illegal truckloads of hazardous wastes sourced from Israel’s Nitzane Shalom (Geshuri) settlement industrial zone that were caught en route in April 2016 heading to the Zahrit al-Finjan landfill (near Jenin). A 2011 Israeli state comptroller report provided that the industrial settlement (referred to as Mesila) is unauthorized and is constructed without building permits through the takeover of Palestinian lands. In addition, it is contrary to international law to even use this landfill for the disposal of hazardous wastes. According to the Oslo Accords, hazardous waste in the Occupied Palestinian Territory needs to be transported for appropriate disposal to an Israeli landfill because the respective Palestinian authorities have been restricted from developing an appropriate location for environmentally sound disposal of toxic wastes. |
In response to Palestine’s notification, Israel claimed that the waste was not theirs because it came from an industrial settlement. However, since responsibility for hazardous waste under the convention extends to ‘areas of jurisdiction’, this claim was dismissed by the Secretariat. According to the Basel Convention, a “transboundary movement” of waste entails the movement of waste from “an area under the national jurisdiction of one State” to another. Areas of national jurisdiction include “any land, marine area or airspace within which a State exercises administrative and regulatory responsibility in accordance with international law in regard to the protection of human health or the environment”. Israeli settlements are under full Israeli control as Israeli civil legislation regulates settlements authority institutions and applies extraterritorially to individual Israeli settlers.
Following the mediated negotiation process provided by the Basel Convention Secretariat, Palestine succeeded in winning an agreement from Israel for the waste to be transferred back across the Green Line, to be appropriately disposed of in Israel. This is a significant victory for Palestine, demonstrating one possible way to use international environmental law to hold Israel accountable for violating the environmental and human rights of Palestinians and seek appropriate remedies. However, in accepting the consequences of its criminal actions, Israel has demanded that the case not be published on the Basel Convention website. Despite the lack of public disclosure about the case to date, it remains an important first step in seeking effective remedial action for environmental crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian communities.